Military panel rules on atheist's demand to be given job as chaplain

March 15, 2023
World Net Daily

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

An employment panel has ruled that the army's requirement that its chaplains, serving servicemembers who mostly are Catholic and Church of Ireland members, be of that faith was discrimination.

The Irish Times reported the Workplace Relations Commission in Ireland has ruled John Hamill was discriminated against.

It was because he was rejected for a position as a military chaplain.

The government had argued that chaplains with "monotheistic belief" are needed to handle issues, including those with local leaders in sensitive conflict zones.

The report noted, "Witnesses for the Department of Defense argued a humanist chaplain could undo years of liaison work by army chaplains with religious fundamentalists in south Lebanon, including Hezbollah supporters, whom, it was argued, would be unlikely to accept a non-religious minister."

The report noted Hamill calls himself a member of the Congregationalist Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The ruling determined that Hamill deserved no "compensation" but told the government agency to review its process so that it would "reflect and foster the diversity of members of the Defense Forces."

The army had explained that the military makes chaplains available services to soldiers, of whom nearly 90% were Catholic. The role of a chaplain, therefore, required a Christian.

It said military chaplains must have "first a monotheistic belief in God, and second the capacity to minister in that faith."

Hamill said otherwise, but Frank Kennedy, on behalf of the Department of Defense, said different treatment was allowed because of the "genuine and determining occupational requirement."

Only 41 service members say they are atheists.

A witness, Capt. Martin McMahon said being of faith, "certainly contributes to force protection by dealings with religious leaders and local leaders."

It was adjudicating officer Kevin Baneham who rejected being of faith as an "occupational requirement" to be a chaplain.

He then claimed, "I have no doubt that religious leaders make very good military chaplains and would likely succeed during any assessment and interview process because of their pastoral work in the community. It is not, however, proportionate that no one else can apply or be considered for appointment."

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